Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 Burn 24: Un-F’n-believeable!

Put on Schwalbes just for the Burn. :)
As some of you know, I came into this Burn without a lot of confidence thanks to an injury DNF at PMBAR a few weeks before (sorry partner (Jay)), followed by pink-eye and a throat virus.  My only real goal was to ride, ride, ride for 24hrs, resting only when necessary.  I thought I was logistically prepared as I arrived early and secured a good pit-spot near the start/finish for myself, Mike and Andie (riding as a coed duo) and Brandon.  I had 6 hrs of Perpetuem ready in bottles, as well as 4 hrs of Hi-Fi 4:1 mix, two gel flasks, an assortment of bars, as well as Enduralites, water and Nuun tablets.  I also brought precooked bacon, cookies and some other food, but the ants enjoyed them before I could--damn those buggers!  Also, my Soul Cycles Hooligan single-speed had a crack at the weld where the rear stays meet the seat tube.  I was told it was not in a catastrophic area and I was unlikely to end up with aluminum shards in my spine, so I brought a back-up bike just in case, and off I went. 
The first few laps were pretty uneventful.  The trail was slick due to all the rain, but because I took my time with the LeMans start, I never felt stuck behind anyone.  There were spots on the trail where I was forced to get off my bike and walk because others had stopped in front of me, but I found out in the ensuing laps that I would likely be walking a few of those spots often.
I pitted after three laps (more Perpetuem and water) and then again after my fifth lap.  I was averaging my goal of about a lap an hour and felt pretty good all things considered.  I decided to start pitting every other lap in order to ensure I was giving myself time to eat and drink properly and to not overdo it.  When the night laps started I was pretty excited to try out my new BikeRay III light on my handlebars.   I went with an XML torch on my helmet (throws 300 lumen which was plenty of light) and used the BikeRay on low (300 floody lumen) for the climbs and on high (amazing 1000 floody lumens) for the descents.  Unfortunately, the BikeRay rotated often on the bars due to the rooty, bouncy trail and I found myself readjusting it constantly.  I think constantly readjusting my light while bouncing down the trail on my 26" hardtail helped keep my alert (how did I not totally bite it?).  Anyway, I had plenty of light and there were no other light related issues.
My 10th and 11th laps were hell.  I had no strength and little energy.  I began walking areas that I would normally ride.  I was having a tough time eating (nauseous) and was throwing down Hammer Gel to try and survive.  I was not going very fast at all, and felt that my level of heart rate and massive perspiration far exceeded my output.  I came into the pit at ~12:30, finished, done.  My plan was to ride for 24 hrs.  And as I said before, to quote the great Mike Tyson, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."  I was just punched in the mouth, hard.  
I was sweating, but shivering with teeth chattering.  Luckily for me Brandon was there as was Andie and Mike.  Andie told me to put on some dry clothes and wrapped me in a blanket and towel while I sat in a camping chair (leave it to a woman to be nurturing).  I felt too nauseous to eat so Brandon gave me a cold coke to help settle my stomach.  I started falling asleep in the chair and woke up to find I had dropped the coke.  Andy figured I was starving and gave me one of Brandon’s store bought roast beef sandwiches.  She was right, I was starving.  I ate most of the sandwich (ah, real food), had another coke, and started to feel a little better.  I was told I was in 4th or 5th at that time.  I did not care.  I just kept running scenarios through my head; like if I slept for 4 or 5 hours, I could still get up and finish four more laps to get the 15 that I had already told everyone I thought I could do.  I also knew there was the possibility that If I went to sleep, my race was over at 11 laps.  At 1:53 a.m. I decided to take of my skirt and put back on my man pants. O.k., I really put on new bibs, shirt and socks and headed out.  I was amazed at how much better I felt, kinda like I did during laps 4 and 5 (cramping and tired, but o.k.).  I went for two laps before pitting again.  Swapped batteries for my bar light, ate some energy bar (don’t remember which), grabbed some gummy gel things and off I went to get my last two laps in.  I struggled hard through laps 14 and 15.  Again, I started walking several sections and began feeling like I should not be out there.  I started to question my sanity.  I thought of the Albert Einstein quote, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".  But I was getting different results (more laps) so I was sane, yes! When I finally came in, I went straight to the standings and saw I was in….2nd!  Are you serious?  I was ~20 minutes ahead of 3rd and about 3 laps ahead of 4th (who obviously slept for the night).  I did not even go to my tent.  I just turned around and punched out lap 16.  I was hating life.  My legs kept cramping, forcing me off the bike.  My left forearm would lock up, forcing me off the bike.  Still, I was going to finish 16 laps, and maybe, just maybe, I might hold on for a podium spot; that is what drove me.
When I came in from lap 16 I was spent.  It was 7:23 a.m.  I told my fellow pitters I was done and going to sleep.  Mike asked if he should wake me at a certain time.  I said not to worry about it.  I would set my alarm for a few hours and see if I had another lap in me before it was over.  I went into the tent, laid down on the comfortable mattress, and realized I left my phone/alarm in my car.  I did not care, I fell asleep.  When I woke up, it was bright, hot, and loud.  I had no idea how long I had slept, so I forced myself up and out of the smoldering tent.  I looked at my bike computer, it was 9:30 a.m., I slept for almost two hours.  I swallowed down some power aid and walked over to view the scores.  With my 16 laps, I was now in 3rd, and the guy in 2nd (Lamar) was out riding.  I said out loud, “Well, looks like I might get 3rd”.  A guy standing there said that he was pitting with the 4th place guy and that he planned on doing 18.  If he did 17 he was going to knock me off the podium.  Crap!  I went back to the tent and conjured up the remains of that magical elixer (coke, and the remaining roast beef sandwich) and changed my clothes.  I had to do one more lap.
As I took off, I felt achy and stiff, but I felt some strength in my legs and a burning desire to make the podium in my first ever 24 solo.  I walked in some of the usual places and surprised myself by clearing many spots I was walking earlier.  I figured this was my last lap, so go all out.  When I came in, I felt comfortable that I had secured 3rd as the guy in 4th I found was not punching out the same fast laps he had in the first 12 hours.  I also saw that I was only 25 minutes behind Lamar in 2nd before I started that lap, but my last lap was about 15 minutes faster than his last lap.  I actually had a chance to catch him if I did one more lap.  Without hesitation I was off, pedaling as hard as I could.  I had to catch Lamar!  I went through the first set of climbs and no Lamar.  I hit the first downhill section (with the tight switchbacks) as fast as I could, still no Lamar.  I started the 2nd series of climbs after the river and began muscling up sections, desperate to chase down 2nd place.  Then there he was.  I caught up to him at the 2nd to last switch-back before the aid station.  He was walking.  I called out to him, “Come on buddy, this is the last one…let’s ride it together and see what we have left.”  He made a motion and said something, but he was not getting back on his bike.  I started pushing harder than I thought possible.  A combination of competitiveness, fear and vanity drove me.   I was working hard, steadily repeating, "Go, go, go, go, go..." with every pedal stroke.  I only looked back once I hit the grass, no Lamar (thank god!).  I cruised in for what turned out to be my fastest lap time of the race.  My fingers had cramped onto my bar, my left forearm was cramped, my legs spent, my ass sore, but I did it.  The longest (by ~50 miles), most difficult event I have ever done; yes, I threw up, and it was awesome!
Never expected this outcome. Suhweet!

The Triangle Riders Represent!  
  • My buddy Jeff D. who also races for TFKT (Trips For Kids-Triangle) finished 19 laps by 10 a.m. and decided to relax as he had 1st sewn up (must be nice). 
  • Andie and Mike (besides working a miracle by bringing me back from the dead) were going back and forth between 3rd and 4th all race before pulling out 3rd with a strong finish. 
  • Debbie H took 2nd in the female class with 12 strong laps. Like me, her last lap was her fastest. :)
  • Kip P. and Alex H. took 2nd in the male duo.  30 Laps, wow!  That would have won it last year.
  •  Camye’s team took 1st in the 3-5 female division, way to go gals.
  • I also saw Terry Kolb was on a 1st place team (shocking).
Way to represent everyone!

Final Note: 
Mountain Bikers are awesome, and I love events like this that bring them together.
Every lap friends and strangers alike were cheering me and all the other riders along, very motivating.
Friday night I hung out with Chris Danz and the Performance crew, those guys are a hoot and rang a cow bell every time I rode by.  Chris also came up behind me for my 16 lap and actually pushed me through the wet mucky mud on to the finish...he is one hell of a guy.
During the race Camye brings me over to her pit (REI tent) to get me some real food to keep me going (Chocolate milk and fancy trail mix...) and plenty of encouragement, thank you Camye.
Andy, Mike and Brandon could not have been more supportive...they saved my arse at midnight when I was a zombie.  I could not have made 15, let alone 18 without them.
Then having guys like Kelly Klett calling wishing me luck before the race (while he is in the midst of his own Trans-Sylvania stage race).  Meeting guys like Mark Sackett and Eric Hagerty, Joel Watson...and them coming up and offering congratulations along with other studs like Jeff Dennison, Kip Porterfield, Alex Hawking and so many others riders I know and respect of all levels and abilities.  That is what makes this sport so amazing.  Full of great guys and gals of all ages (some studs, some weekend warriors like myself) that are happy to see others out taking part in events like the Burn24 that put money back into the trails so we all can continue to enjoy the sport we love.  End of PSA.
Good Times.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pink Eye, Just Great!

So, my youngest daughter gets pink eye, my older daughter then gets it, and well you know how it works, Sh%# rolls up hill and I end up sick as dog (though I rarely see a sick dog...but I am moping around with a wet nose and drooling a bit, kinda like an aging Basset Hound).  If you have never had pink eye, it is a wierd sensation waking up and not being able to open your eyes because they are glued shut with eye boogers that must be wiped and/or crumbled apart in order to see.  Good Stuff.  Well, hopefully the ribs I have consumed will make up for my lack of training.

Me, a week before my first solo 24.
 I will be riding my first ever solo 24 hr race this weekend (5/26-27) at the Burn 24.  Honestly, I felt over prepared for this event, and that just would not be fair to my fellow competitors.  For this reason, I decided to get injured during PMBAR to justify taking a week off the bike (to help level the playing field).  After one ride I still felt too strong, so I decided to contract pink-eye and a nasty throat virus to keep me off the bike for another week. will try a ride tonight, but because I don't want to embarrass anyone out there, I will follow it up with a rack of ribs and some beer.
Over the three weeks leading up to this ride, I will have had more racks of ribs than rides.  Now that is how you train for the Burn.  Cool
Oh yeah, The blog name has changed from Old, Short, Fat Bald Single-Speeder, as it has been pointed out that I am no longer considered "fat".  Thought about going with "Phat", but I am not hip enough to pull it off.  Now this does allow me to go with a cool Acronym (I just love C.A' Acronyms), but I could not decide between B.O.S.S. (Bald, Old, Short, Single-speeder) or S.O.B. (Short, Old, Bald).  Fortunately, after a short poll of my inner circle, it was made clear that I am more of an S.O.B than a BOSS, so there ya go. More changes to come to keep things fresh...or is it now "phresh"??? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On the Road Again, and Trail!

Single speed commuter
After more than a week off due to injury, on Monday, I finally hit the road for my first ride to test the knee.  My ride consisted of an 8 mile commute to work (IRO Mark V single speed), and then a 13 mile commute home.  Felt fine other than a little interior soreness, almost as if the inner scar/scab is causing some discomfort, but I can live with it.  Decided to hit the trails on Tuesday, but as I go for my bike (which has been sitting dormant since I returned from Pisgah), I found the left side of my bottom bracket seized as well as the upper bearing on my headset.  Bummer!  So I grabbed the Motobecane Fantom Team off the wall, removed my wifes seatpost/seat combo and slid on my Seatpost/seat combo and I was off to ORC.  This ride made me realize how much I now dislike riding a full suspension bike.  Am I in the right gear? Do I sit and spin? Do I stand?  What is all that noise?  Strange, that two years ago I won the Triangle XC Series on this bike* and now it only gets ridden by my wife or when the SS is in need of repair.  I had planned on riding 2 laps (24 miles) but instead rode one frustrating lap, then 5 miles of fire road before calling it a night.  When I returned home I disassembled and cleaned the bottom bracket shell and and the eccentric bottom bracket, then threw on an XT bottom bracket I had lying around.  Next, I took apart the Motobecanes headset and swapped over the bearings I needed (before ordering another set).  This weekend I am definitely back on the Single Speed with one week left before the Burn 24...YeeHah!
Val, showing off what will eventually be her full-suspension ride.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

PMBAR 2011 Experience: First Ever DNF!

Un-#%@-believable.  Last year Jay and I had a great 1st PMBAR.  We worked through adversity, we made some good strategic decisions, and we finished the event on our single-speeds with four checkpoints in eleven and a half hours.  Neither of us knew the trails that first PMBAR but after the first checkpoint we caught up to another team (Camye's) and she let us follow her as long as we could keep up.  This year Jay and I studied the trails, studied previous checkpoints, studied which trails were better in which direction...heck, I even made a small map (which I left in the campsite, but it did not matter).  We were ready to go at it.  We were given the passport, read some funky rules like no Black Mtn start/return, turn in a wooden nickle and no out-and-back on Pilot, then we were off.
Checkpoint one: Thrift> Black> Maxwell> Clawhammer> Buckhorn> S Mills>Squirrel.  We were rolling fast and passing a lot of geared teams on the climbs.

Taken 4 hours later at Davidson
Checkpoint two: Squirrel>Mullinax>S Mills>Bradley Creek (yes, we should have taken Horse Gap to Cantrell to save a few minutes, but we went the way we knew for sure). Arrived at 11:58. I Had a cookie, a donut, two pieces of bacon and we were off with ~ three other teams.
Checkpoint three: I am feeling pretty good at this point...even better than a couple hours ago.  The plan was for Bradly Creek>1206>Yellow Gap>Trace Ridge.  After that we would back track to 1206, up Laurel Mtn to Pilot for #4 and down Pilot, Down S Mills to Buckhorn Gap and retrace our path to the finish.  Unfortunately ~5 miles up Bradley Creek I was carrying my bike across maybe the 6th river crossing when I took a bad step on a large slippery rock and went down hard.  Don't know what happened really, other than I banged my knee on my bike and it felt like I was hit with a ball-peen hammer.  As I started writhing in pain, I noticed  chunks of white flesh dangling from my knee.  I limp out of the water with my bike and instantly my lower leg is a sheet of red and the pain is immense.  The next river crossing was only 30 ft away so I limped to it to wash off my knee, hoping I could walk this off.  I went into the river gingerly, it was hard to walk.  I could still see the pieces of flesh dangling around in the water.  As I exited the river, the blood again began to flow freely.  And while the cold water certainly helped a bit, I was hurtin' for certain.  As Jay is getting out his first aid kit to patch me up, another team comes up behind me and asks to take a look.  Of all the people who could come up right behind us, I get a guy who works in an ER.  He tells me to sit down and assists in stopping the bleeding.  He just happens to have some prescription strength Liquid Stitches which he proceeds to apply to my leg after a bit of applied pressure slowed the bleeding.  He gave me instructions to sit there for a few minutes to let it dry, then it should be good even through the river crossings.  He said to expect some seepage due to the movement, but I should be good.  He was right.  As his team went forward, Jay and I knew our race was done, but our adventure was not over.  We still had over 5 miles and several river crossings to get back to the last checkpoint near Turkey Pen.  The stitches held up great, and I ended up riding with my right leg dangling and my left leg peddling as hard as it could all the way back (with some limp-a-bike mixed in).  We eventually made it back, and one of the guys at the checkpoint was going to give me a ride back, but he could not fit both of us in his car.  Fortunately, I had met a nice couple at the bottom of Turkey Pen as I waited for Jay who went up to the parking lot to catch the guy.  They were just finishing fishing for the day and offered to throw our bikes in the back of their truck and get us back to the start.  They even offered to push my bike up the hill for me, though I declined, because I did not need them to, and because it served as a crutch while I was walking.  After Jay rode down the hill, I ended up riding up to the parking lot with him (using only me left leg).  When the couple arrived, they gave Jay and me beer while we waited for them to get out of their fishing gear.  They got us back to the start where we told Eric about our DNF, but considering what had happened, I still had plenty to be thankful for.  This was my first ever DNF and I felt really bad for Jay; but he was a fantastic PMBAR partner (and an all around good guy) and he was great through the whole ordeal.  Heck, by the time it was over we still had ~40 miles of Pisgah.
Felt like a bad son & husband for being gone on Mothers Day.
The best part of the trip was the riding, the hanging out with all the other riders before, during and after the event; convincing Eric to give an inebriated Rich Dillen a seat for a prize (like that guy needs more free stuff), and hanging out with fellow like-minded mountain bikers.  Jay, campground crasher Camye and I also really enjoyed spending meals with Jeff, Kelly K. and Kelly's family (Dad, Mom, wife, mom-in-law).  Good peeps, good times.  The worst part of the trip: listening to all the darn 26" jokes (there were plenty, too many really), and naturally many focused on how I would not have gotten injured if only I rode a big-kids bike (lame).  Still, a PMBAR to remember (the scars will ensure that).  Pisgah, you may have gotten the better of me this year just may have to be the tie breaker.

Note:  I had a close-up pic of my knee posted, complete with oozing puss and blood, but the wife insisted that no one wanted to see I switched it with a couple of bad sons and a bad husband.  Though luckily I still made it home in time to have dinner with my wife and mother, so all is good on the homefront, surely earning me positive points toward another mtb weekend hall-pass. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pisgah PMBAR Map

So, in an effort to not get lost for this upcoming PMBAR, I have taken the large Pisgah map and attempted to recreate it on a standard sheet of paper to carry with me.  Naturally the trails are not to scale, and I still will not know which trails are better in which direction, but I wasn't going to know that anyway (other than for a few trails).  I am still researching trails and hope to add notes on the backside of the map.  I know just creating this map (twice, messed up once), was a help in learning the large network of trails.  Of course now I learn there is a new map with better/more information, but what can you do?  Hopefully this map will be the key to a successful race...or at least the key to not spending the night in the woods.   Well, if anything, it will shave some grams off the original map. :)  And yes, I changed my font...whatchagonnadoaboutit?

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Holy Smokes.  I just added up my riding mileage and realized I have been putting in more miles than I though (for a guy who only rides his mtb twice a week).
Here are the stats:
January: SSmtb=211, SSrd=119 Total=330
February: SSmtb=302, SSrd=121 Total=423
March: SSmtb=331, SSrd=127, Grd (gears)=15 Total=473
April: SSmtb=327, SSrd=117, Total=444
Cummulative Totals: SSmtb= 1,171, SSrd=484 Total=1655
Yikes, that puts me on pace for over 6k miles.  I would like to ask how I continue to stay fat with all this riding, but the nachos, rack of ribs and multiple beverages I consumed yesterday may have an answer.
One would also think I would be a kick-a$$ rider.  I should be keeping up with Dickey, Kelly and Jeff (Mr. Podium at Warrior Creek), but hey, I like to do my thing, so I am not out doing intervals, worrying about power wattage and hear rate stuff.  I just try to ride lots.  With PMBAR in a week, then the Burn24 a few weeks later, this could be a big month.
I will definitely slow it down over the summer as I will not be commuting to work, I will be in California for a month, and though I will ride more frequently on the SSmtb, my rides will be shorter in duration.
I am also proud to report that over the last few months, in an attempt to get a stronger upper body and core, I have begun the habit of doing a push-up/sit-up routine ~every two days.  Would like to do this every day, or at least every other day, but my joints (and lack of muscle) just can't take it.  I have begun working in curls (for the girls) but my strained bicep, while healing, keeps me from doing them too often.  Sadly, I do not look that strong, and as strong as I do look, I am not even that strong; so hopefully this is the start of (in Austrian accent) getting pumped up!